December 14, 2010/Detroit Free Press Editorial
By Daniel J. Aronoff
Former Member Board of Trustees Grand Valley State University
I agree with your premise that, as the second largest component of discretionary state spending, Michigan's university system of funding and oversight bears critical examination ("State universities need smarter governance," Nov 21).
Any informed observer must agree that our universities serve at least two vitally important and reinforcing needs in our state: To provide higher education to our children "which offers entry to high income and occupational choice in the adult world" and to act as a magnet for the knowledge-based employers we need to attract to Michigan.
There is a fundamental choice to be made in approach. One is to move the system to central control and regulation, as your editorial suggests.
The other view recognizes that Michigan suffers from a deficit of entrepreneurship, in business, in government and in our wider culture. According to this view, the appropriate response is to move in a direction diametrically opposite central planning; to increase autonomy and intensify competition between our universities by channeling what money our state devotes to its universities through the students who select where to attend.
Michigan needs to nurture an entrepreneurial, knowledge-based economy. At the center of such an economy is a vibrant and flexible university system. This can best be achieved by making our universities themselves embodiments of the entrepreneurial culture they need to foster.